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Something shifted overnight for me. At first, I scoffed at how absurd people were being about a silly virus. Then I began to feel a looming sense of dread, realizing that this was not something to take lightly. It was 3 months into my third pregnancy. I started questioning if that meant I was an immunocompromised at-risk person who would be more susceptible to COVID-19. And although I suddenly went from an apathetic state to a concerned and informed citizen, I still had no clue what it all meant. Or how it would actually affect all of our lives in such a drastic way. If I’m being honest, I still didn’t worry too much about being pregnant during a pandemic. That’s because I thought it would blow over in a month, or, at the most, by the time I gave birth. 

But being in the middle of a pandemic rapidly changed the landscape in which I conducted my life and consequently my third pregnancy.

Ya know, they say each pregnancy is different, but now that I’m 6 months pregnant and COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon… I’d say this one is taking the cake. But just because this pregnancy is DIFFERENT, doesn’t mean it has to be DISASTROUS. I am realizing that finding the positives in pregnancy during a pandemic is ALL about shifting my perspective.

My prenatal workout class

…Went from an amazing escape every Monday night, connecting with other pregnant mamas and getting an hour break from all the responsibilities of having two kids and a full-time job to a virtual Zoom session from home. And it’s quite the struggle to find a quiet space to exercise without my kids literally jumping on my back or bumping into me. attempting to do the moves alongside me.

UPSIDE: The kids are kinda cute when they try to do the workout moves. I still get to check in with other mamas, and working up a sweat contributes to a healthy pregnancy! (Also having my girls see me working out models good healthy habits for them!) 

Prenatal doctor appointments… (specifically the 20-week Anatomy Scan)

…changed drastically. It went from a much-anticipated appointment where my husband would attend and we’d find out the gender together to an extremely lonely experience. I wore a mask, sat in an almost empty waiting room, and saw a skeleton crew of healthcare employees. I recorded the ultrasound to show my husband when I got home since spouses were (and currently are) not allowed to attend any appointments.

UPSIDE: I have a video of the ultrasound, which would otherwise not be allowed. And really, I’m thankful for the healthcare workers taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their patients… even if it means I had to be alone for such a significant moment. 

Big announcements like gender reveals

…changed, too (because yes, gender reveal parties are still a thing)! We went from all our friends and family gathering around a big box filled with balloons that we would let free at just the right moment to yet another virtual Zoom session. Among only our closest friends and family, I let Jackie, my 4-year-old daughter, do the honors of announcing we’d be adding ANOTHER girl to the mix! 

UPSIDE: Having a special intimate announcement that I was able to record was priceless. And I saved a ton of money on balloons, food, and decorations. Just sayin’.  

Documenting my pregnancy

…went from a variety of social events where we would naturally take photos to trying to remember what day of quarantine it was and finding a split-second where the stars aligned (aka the weather was good, makeup and outfit were put on and I had my fancy camera on hand) to get a good picture to document my growing baby bump. 

UPSIDE: The photos that I do get will be that much more precious. And, the captions I write with them will give tremendous insight into this unprecedented time in history for future generations.  

The pregnancy attention

…went from the normal socially appropriate, “You’re glowing!” or “You don’t even look pregnant from behind, it’s all belly!” to crickets. Honestly, some days I think people forget I’m pregnant. They usually only see me from my shoulders up on video calls or FaceTime. If not for my intentional picture-taking that gets posted on social media, I probably would surprise everyone when I resurface from this quarantine to reveal a brand new baby! 

UPSIDE: The socially inappropriate comments have stopped, too! I don’t have strangers trying to touch my belly. I don’t have awkward co-worker conversations about whether I will be breastfeeding, either. And people don’t exclaim, “Are you SURE you’re not having twins?!” (All these things have most definitely happened in previous pregnancies.) 

These are but a handful of ways this pandemic has reshaped this pregnancy. I could choose to dwell on the overarching climate of fear, anxiety, worry, and confusion that only increases my stress. OR, I can focus on finding the upside in every situation. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary for the health of me and my baby girl. So, today, I’m choosing to be thankful. Yes, I recognize the downsides, the difficulties, and the disasters happening around me. However, I’m choosing to be positive, no matter what. 

“Honey, what does this “+” sign mean on this stick?”

“It means you’re gonna be a dad.” Whoa!

I immediately have to make a choice, and it may seem easy, but it’s not. The fact is, I’m NOT excited.

This is going against the carefully thought-out plan we concocted so that our child(ren) could have the best life and be in the best position for success while also allowing me and our family to be successful at the same time.

No, I’m still not excited. On the other hand, my wife is jumping through the roof with excitement.

Hold up, did she let this happen on purpose? Do I fake it and join in with her? Am I honest with her? Am I sensitive? Am I real with myself and her or do I let her have her moment?

Fast forward: 11 years and SIX kids later. Yep, six. (None were planned, although some were more of a surprise than others; for instance, conceiving while changing birth control methods). And guess what? My wife and I worked through it all, together and honestly.

Because of my wife’s understanding when I was honest and transparent about my concerns, not just about how life would change, but about my deep resentment that she wanted a baby right then even though I didn’t, we made it through the fears and the guilt.

There are legitimate, deeply personal reasons for not being excited about a pregnancy.

  • Concerns about how it will affect the marriage.
  • Not where you want to be in your career.
  • Financial considerations.
  • Effects of pregnancy and childbirth on a woman’s body.
  • Just don’t feel ready to be a parent.

The idea that I was wrong for initially feeling rejection toward the baby is damaging. Marriage is intended to be a place where honesty, transparency and reality can take place without judgment. It’s a place where you can handle an emotion personally, without taking the emotion personally (let that sink in). My wife took it personally that I thought she was being selfish and even divisive by wanting the baby. But she quickly realized that my emotions came from a place of fear, guilt and anxiety.

What got us through? We talked. We disagreed. We expressed the strong emotions we had, but we did it together. When outsiders said hurtful things, we told one another and we cared for each other. We acknowledged where both of us were and decided that it was ok, because it was real. But we never forgot that together, we ultimately had what we needed to take on the privileged position of parenthood.

By the way, guess who was the first person to buy a book to read to the baby in the womb? You got it: Me! Now that I think about it, our process may have made us better parents. I can definitely say that it strengthened our marriage.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Latisha Simmons was 14 and pregnant. She actually kept her pregnancy a secret until the morning she went into labor when she told her mother her stomach hurt and she needed to go to the hospital.

“I was 15 when my daughter was born,” says Simmons. “My world was turned upside down. I was going to be a freshman at Howard High School. It was difficult going to school pregnant. Nobody knew what was going on. At that time it was not cool to be 14 and pregnant.”

Simmons knows the odds were stacked against her. People talked about girls getting pregnant, dropping out of high school and living in poverty.

“Teen pregnancy went back generations in my family,” Simmons says. “I was determined that I would graduate from high school and find a way to raise my child. I woke up every morning and got myself and my daughter ready. There were many days I went to school having had very little sleep.”

Simmons says she doesn’t know anything that has been harder in her life than being pregnant as a teen and raising a child.

“I was a child having a child,” Simmons asserts. “I was clueless about what it meant to be a mother. My world was turned upside down when my daughter arrived. My mom was very supportive of me, but she told me it was my responsibility to raise my child. She would not babysit so that I could go to a party or basketball game.”

Simmons started working at 16 and hasn’t quit. She graduated from high school and worked at Wheland Foundry.

“My main goal was to take care of my daughter,” Simmons says. “The foundry work was backbreaking. I knew I needed to find something different. Eventually I started going to college part-time.”

Today, Simmons has a Master’s degree in social work and her daughter is a college graduate. 

“My goal was for my daughter not to walk the same road as me,” Simmons says. “She would probably tell you I talked with her too much about sex. Today I can tell you, she broke the cycle.”

Simmons is thankful that her mom made her take responsibility for her child. The sleepless nights and endless work to raise a child taught her that she did not want to parent another child alone.

While the nation’s teen pregnancy and birth rates are at historic lows, progress has been uneven. According the the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, it is still the case that nearly 1 in 4 girls in the U.S. get pregnant by age 20. Interestingly, four in 10 teens (39%) say they have never thought about what their life would be like if they were to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy.

While Hamilton County has experienced a significant decrease in teen pregnancies since 1997, there were still 94 teen pregnancies (age 10-17) in 2013. Believe it or not, parents play a huge role in preventing teen pregnancy. The best way to prevent teen pregnancy is for parents to talk with and educate their children. Share your values and expectations when it comes to relationships, dating and sex. Your teens are listening.